Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bryan Caplan's discrimination Syllabus

Bryan Caplan's labor economics and discrimination syllabus is a very clear summary of why the subject is more complicated than many feminists and lefties make it. Maybe academic feminists are familiar with thinking statistically about gender differences, but feminists on the ground too quickly infer discrimination from inequality.

"Women only make X cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job!" Yeah, okay, end of story then. Because in a world without discrimination women and men would make exactly the same amount in every occupation?

95% of every ideology is intellectually stupid, including feminism. Sometimes it seems like the 5% all talk to each other and have very sophisticated debates, but intellectual growth in both groups stays flat because everyone else isn't exposed to truly smart ideas, they're stuck at dumb emotional moral outrage.

And that's what I like about Bryan Caplan's syllabus. It's a tour of how to think statistically about labor markets and discrimination, because despite what popular culture says, statistical laws do not stop at people.

Key points I take away from the syllabus:
Statistical discrimination does not reduce mean group income. It just narrows the distribution. People who exceed their group stereotype's performance level are under-paid; people who fall short of their group stereotype's performance level are over-paid.
Very important.

I also take away the terminology of statistical vs preference based discrimination. This is a distinction everyone should make.

I also like his question: "If you really wanted to stop discrimination, which would make more sense to ban: IQ tests or face-to-face interviews?" Hmm, I wonder.